There is no rush for the Rockets to trade Eric Gordon
It’s been pretty clear for a while now that Eric Gordon doesn’t have a long-term future with the Rockets. Once James Harden was traded in January, every relevant role player left over from the last regime was on the clock. Last season P.J. Tucker grew disgruntled with the franchise for not receiving a contract extension and was promptly traded. Then John Wall and the Rockets mutually agreed to part ways last week. The next obvious domino is Gordon.
Rockets fans are eager to move on to Houston’s new young core and players like Gordon are almost viewed as relics. In some way it’s understandable as Gordon is an obstacle in the way of someone like rookie Josh Christopher receiving playing time. He’s also not clearly not apart of the future, so why delay the inevitable? The answer is also pretty understandable: because Houston doesn’t have to.
Eric Gordon Trade Patience
The Basketball Argument
When healthy, Eric Gordon is a very good basketball player that provides spacing and versatility to Houston’s rotation. While players like Josh Christopher can develop unbothered in the G League, Gordon acts almost like an artificial buffer. He allows player development to happen in the background while contributing in the foreground. Also, with John Wall off the team, Gordon isn’t going to be in the way of Kevin Porter Jr. or Jalen Green’s development.
As of right now, it’s expected that Gordon will come off the bench. This means he will have a very small impact on almost every young player on the roster.
The long-term argument
As much as the Rockets would like to move on from both John Wall and Eric Gordon, both of their contracts expiring at the same time is actually quite fortuitous. Houston could have as much as two max cap slots in 2023 because a giant sum of money comes off the books that summer. If the Rockets were to trade Gordon, they would obviously keep this in mind with long-term salary they take back. It isn’t worth jeopardizing Houston’s long-term plans to even consider taking back significant money that goes beyond 2023.
This is why it would behoove the Rockets to allow Gordon to raise his stock for at least the first few months of the season. Rushing into something right now would be naive considering his value is at a low point. If teams are offering back terrible contracts, there is little incentive to accept a deal. The Rockets should look for manageable salaries or at least something matching the two years, $37.8 million Gordon has remaining on his deal.
Additionally, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they decided to wait until Gordon was an expiring contract next year. His value would presumably be higher to most teams and it allows the Rockets an opportunity to prove he can be healthy. It’s imperative that Houston get a first round pick back in a Gordon trade and if they can’t do that, it’s almost not worth doing it at all. It can’t be stressed enough that with both Wall and Gordon, the summer of 2023 should take priority over locker room awkwardness.